Muslim media practitioners at the weekend urged the Nigerian media to ensure fair portrayal of Islam and Muslims in the country.
This was part of the resolution of journalists and scholars at the 2nd Annual Conference of Muslims Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), Lagos State Chapter.
The event held on Saturday at the Multipurpose Hall of the Lagos State Secretariat Central Mosque, Ikeja.
Speaking at the event, a veteran journalist, Liad Tella, said that reportage of Muslims and Islamic issues suffered setbacks because the Nigerian media was mainly dominated by non-Muslims.
In his lecture titled, ”Analysis of Reportage of Islam and Muslims in Nigeria”, Mr.Tella urged Muslims to shun incompetence and embrace professionalism so as to win the respect and admiration of non-Muslims.
The journalist who is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Mass Communication, University of Ilorin, traced the origin of the Nigerian media.
“It is a fact that Muslims are not adequately represented in the media but we can make a difference by discouraging incompetence and embracing professionalism,” he said.
On his part, Lakin Akintola, Islamic scholar and right activist, accused the Nigerian media of misrepresenting Muslims on several occasions.
Mr. Akintola, a professor, urged Nigerian Muslims to endeavour to own media houses, while advising the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to sanction erring journalists who deliberately disseminate falsehoods.
“The Nigerian media has been most unfair to Muslims in Nigeria, and I will advise that Muslim journalists should increase ownership of media houses,” he said.
“Sometimes Muslims are deliberately shut out from the media on issues that concern them, while at other times we see parochial representation of Islam and the Nigerian Muslims.
“It is now common to hear Muslims being referred to as terrorists in the media; that is condemnable.
“The NUJ also needs to wield the big stick and sanction media houses that misrepresent religions or incite violence,” he advised.
The Chairman on the occasion, Lai Olurode, urged Muslim journalists to be more active in projecting the true essence of Islam as a religion of peace.
Mr. Olurode, a professor at the University of Lagos, argued that the concept of Nigerian media could not be established in the same sense as, say, the British media. He, also, implored Muslims to be active in the media, stressing that they will have to tell their stories themselves.
“We have not been very active as Muslim media practitioners, and we cannot expect any other person to tell our stories for us,” he said.
“We do not need to float our own media houses before we can be heard, we should endeavour to improve our visibility and be more active in projecting Islam in the media,” he said.
Earlier in his remarks, the Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs, AbdulHakeem AbdulLateef, advised Muslims to strive to own and control their own media houses.
Mr. AbdulLateef, who represented Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, also urged Muslims to take more active roles in politics so as to affect society positively.
In his contribution, Mumini Alao, a sports journalist and publisher, urged the association to take concrete steps in addressing perceived stereotypical portrayal in the media.
Mr. Alao said the Press Council and others media regulatory agencies could be intimated of unprofessional conducts on the part of defaulting media outfits.
The high point of the event was the presentation of awards to the registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, Isiaq Oloyede. Mr. Oloyede, a professor, was recognised for his outstanding leadership traits as head of JAMB.
Similarly, Ashiat Abdulkareem, a multiple award-winning female Muslim student in Lagos State, was honoured as the ‘Face of Hijab’ for her contributions to the struggle for the recognition of Hijab rights in Nigeria.